His Holiness was born Lhamo Dhondrub on July 6, 1935 in Takster, Amdo, North-East Tibet to a peasant family. He was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. His enthronement as the 14th Dalai Lama took place on February 22, 1940 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people. Lhamo Dhondrub was, as Dalai Lama, renamed Tenzin Gyatso - or - Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom. Tibetans also refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem or simply “Kundun - The Presence.”
Soon after the Communists took control of China in October 1949, Beijing began to content that “the People’s Liberation Army must liberate all Chinese territories,” including Tibet. On October 7, 1950, 40,000 Chinese troops invaded. They easily overran the smaller Tibetan force of 8,000 troops and militia. Over 4,000 Tibetan fighters were killed in two days of fighting.
On November 17, 1950, the Dalhi Lama assumed full political power of Tibet. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Tse-tung. His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to Sino-Tibetan conflict were thwarted. In 1959, Lhasa was the scene of a huge demonstration calling for China’s withdrawal from Tibet, and reaffirming Tibetan independence. The uprising was crushed by the Chinese army. The Dalai Lama escaped to India where he was given political asylum. Since 1960, the Dalai Lama has resided in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.
In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The citation read, “The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”
His Holiness often says, “I am just a simple Buddhist monk - no more, nor less.” In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the eighth century Buddhist saint Shantideva:
“For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world.”
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The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
by The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama explores similarities between science and spirituality. He suggests that scientific inquiry should be approached with compassion and empathy, and spirituality that ignores science can quickly become rigid fundamentalism.
An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
by The Dalai Lama
In the summer of 1999, the Dalai Lama addressed an audience of over 40,000 in Central Park on how to live a better life. Open Heart is derived from this and other popular lectures given in New York.
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
by The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler
Cutler presents a study and practice for living derived from an extended series of interviews with the Dalai Lama.
Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama
by The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama reveals the remarkable inner strength that allowed him to master both the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism and the brutalities of Chinese invasion of Tibet.
The 14th Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of Tibet
by Whitney Stewart
This biography, written for young adults, begins with the Dalai Lama's 1959 escape from the Chinese Communists. Includes a description of how the 14th Dalai Lama was discovered, plus information about Tibetan Buddhism.
The Four Noble Truths: Fundamentals of the Buddhist Teachings
by The Dalai Lama
In the summer of 1996 the Dalai Lama gave four lectures on suffering and the overcoming it. Each of these lessons begins with a short introduction by Dr. Robert Thurman of Columbia University.
A Path to Happiness: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In these difficult times, people are looking for answers to finding inner peace and happiness and arguably the greatest teacher shares important insights to getting there.
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
Part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics, "10 Questions for The Dalai Lama" conveys more than history and more than answers - it opens a window into the heart of an inspiring man.
The Four Noble Truths: His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
In the summer of 1996 the Dalai Lama gave four lectures on suffering and the overcoming it. Each lesson begins with a short introduction by Dr. Robert Thurman of Columbia University.
Compassion In Exile
For over forty years the Dalai Lama has waged a non-violent struggle in exile to bring attention to the plight of his people and save their unique culture and religion. He is the embodiment of the ideal of his Buddhist heritage and practice, and his life story is an inspiring lesson in compassion and peace.
The Dalai Lama begins his exile from Tibet in 1959
CNN features photographs of the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet to exile in India.